Port parcel seen as ideal for subdivision worth $800,000 by one estimate
Attempting to spark efforts to sell 54.5 acres of farmland the Port Washington-Saukville School District has owned for more than 47 years, the School Board last week decided to release a marketing report that describes the property as an attractive site for residential development.
The report, prepared by Moegenburg Research Inc. of Milwaukee, concludes that, based on an average size of 14,000 square feet, 127 lots could be developed on the property, which is north of Grand Avenue and east of Highway LL on Port Washington’s west side.
That suggests the property, once seen as a future site for a school, could be a windfall for the district, although the excerpts of the Moegenburg report released by the district do not include appraisal information.
The district has not released the appraisal to protect its bargaining interests, Supt. Michael Weber said, and is in the process of having the land reappraised in light of an increase in new home construction in Port Washington.
Tom Didier, owner/broker of Re/Max United Port Washington, who is not involved in efforts to sell the property, said in an interview this week that with an increasing demand for residential sites in the Port Washington area, it’s a seller’s market.
“All the market indications are good, and inventory is very low,” he said. “All the data we’ve seen suggests this year will mimic last year, which was pretty busy.”
High demand for residential sites is driving up prices, although not to where they were in the early 2000s when land was selling for $20,000 or more an acre, Didier said.
“Then the market tanked,” he said.
But in the current market, land like that owned by the School District, which is abutted by utilities and city streets, could sell for $15,000 an acre, Didier said. That would make the property worth more than $800,000.
“I don’t think we’re back in the $20,000-an-acre range, but maybe $15,000,” he said.
Thus far, the School Board has been committed to the for-sale-by-owner approach. Although it solicited proposals from brokers, it shelved those in September when it received an unsolicited offer for the property. The board countered that offer, which officials described as attractive, but the counteroffer has lapsed.
The board received a second offer earlier this year, but after meeting in closed session to consider it, took no action.
“We’ve received a couple more inquiries,” Director of Business Services Jim Froemming told the board last week.
Although farmland now, the property is seen as a desirable residential site because of its location and proximity to other subdivisions — Spinnaker West to the south, The Woods at White Pine to the west and Lake Ridge to the east. It’s bordered by farmland to the north.
Referring to comments from area real estate brokers, the Moegenburg report states, “They noted that the (property) has a great location within Port Washington and all utilities and services are to the site boundaries. The only downfall is the fact that there are a number of other subdivisions in the area that are trying to fill up, which provides greater competition.”
In May, a year after the approval of a $49.4 million referendum that reflects the board’s commitment to renovating and expanding its current schools rather than building new ones, officials decided it was time to sell the land the district has long owned.
The district purchased the property, which is comprised of two parcels, in January 1969 from Elmer and Myrtle Bley for $149,944.
Since then it has been seen as a site for a future school, but as the city developed around it and the needs of schools changed, it became a less desirable school site. And with the approval of a referendum that provides $46.5 million to modernize the high school and $3.8 million to expand Dunwiddie Elementary School, officials said it was time put the property on the market.
Proceeds from the sale of the land are to be used to finance capital improvements, and a leading contender is Port Washington High School’s outdoor athletic facilities, officials have said. While the referendum is financing building improvements, it does not include money for outdoor athletic facilities.
Officials envision a fairly sweeping project that would include the replacement of the grass football field with artificial turf, new lighting and sound systems and a press box. The project could be expanded to include artificial turf and other improvements to the baseball diamonds and track and field facilities.